What does Zero Waste Look Like on a Farm?

Ugly Juice hit the Heart of the City Farmers Market this to celebrate National Farmer’s Market Week and get to know some of the awesome growers in our state.

The San Francisco farmers market brings together a cavalcade of interesting people who all have different methods on how they deal with food waste. We interviewed three farmers, all from different parts of California, on what they did with their excess produce and how others can do their part to fight waste. Here are their stories.

The first stand that we visited, De Santis Farm, was owned by a very sweet couple Matteo and Rosa De Santis, who have been in the farming industry for over 40 years. After moving to the United States from Italy, they married and managed a local grocery store before purchasing a 20-acre plot of land in Fresno, CA which reminds Rosa of her homeland in Italy. After talking with them, we asked what “What do you do with old produce?” Rosa responded by saying “We try to get creative with our excess food since more often than not, we have more food than we know what to do with. We will either make fertilizer or we will feed the animals. It all depends on the day and the weather!”

We then asked them “what does zero waste mean to you?” The couple quickly said,

“Try not to waste anything… there is always a use for everything.”


The second stand that we visited is family owned farm, Yerena Farms. The farm originally started growing strawberries for Driscoll for 12 years and began to grow conventionally in 1982, due to market demand. Now they have 6 full time employees and travel from farmer’s market to farmer’s market, selling 100% organic produce. When asked what they did with their food waste, the son was quick to respond,

“We make wine out of blackberries, we make juice and we make ice-cream. The issue is, we will have months where there is so much food, that it’s hard not to waste it. But we do our best to use all of the harvested produce.”


The third and final stand we visited was Rainbow Orchards which is a third generation family farm. Based out of Camino, California, Rainbow Orchards has been growing fruit for 40 years and claims to have the best apples, pears, peaches and blueberries. We tried their blueberries and attest that they are quite amazing! When asked what her family farm does with excess produce, she responded by saying, “ We make jams, we make amazing apple cider, and they also have a compost pit.” She then continued,

“Since we are a third generation family farm, we have it down to a science. We rarely have excess food waste since we know how much to grow, what time of the year to grow and how much needs to be harvested.”


The San Francisco Farmer’s Market was an eye opening experience to say the least. All of these farms have very creative ways in which they deal with excess produce and making the best tasting. If they all had one thing in common, it’s that they don’t let anything go to waste. We should all follow in these farms footsteps and live by the motto that everything should be used for something!